Sunday in present tense

I’m so ready for this long overdue entry. A little blast of coffee down the old gullet, and here I am.

Did I mention I’m up to three cups a day?

This is not something to be proud of. I fought the societal enforced drug for years until my second year of college. But there was something about my school library’s picture box views of Lake Michigan that rock-a-byed me into a delicious slumber. Maybe it was the chairs, the way their cushions swallowed me whole while I re-read the same blocks of text.

While I introduced my life to caffeine, others on campus popped their first Adderall. Sometimes I wonder if I’d have a doctorate by now if I would have jumped on that bandwagon.

My second cup of coffee paraded into my life while I was managing two trade publications. Editing down product release after product release on everything from ball valves and PEX elbow fittings to the new state-of-the-art boiler really took me to a new level of tired.

Now, I’m basically a walking stereotype of a copywriter with high-functioning anxiety and impending carpal tunnel. The moderate stream of coffee fuels both. Needless to say, I’ve been finding myself needing to give the old wrists a break every now and then.

How are you? I hope you did at least one thing today that made you feel alive. If you don’t know what that means, I recommend morning orgasms. Adult coloring books. Going off script while preparing your next dinner. A little extra spice or a bit of honey helps everything. I promise you’ll feel good about selecting the option: “yes, I’ll donate 1 dollar to a homeless pet” on the register.

Speaking of pets, I talked to my grandma today about her dog who had to be rushed to the emergency room after a seizure. She said she thought her beloved spaniel was just “plumping out” for the winter, but it turned out it was the internal bleeding that was causing her belly to bloat. My grandma’s voice was hoarse, like every word was too painful to speak. She told me the money it would cost for a blood transfusion and how she’s hoping that the medicine the vet gave her will be enough. I hope my biggest hopes it’s enough too.

I looked at my dog lazing on the floor in the pile of fluff she ripped out of her stuffed narwhal, and I couldn’t help but feel helpless. She wouldn’t be able to tell me if she was bleeding from the inside either.

A few days ago one of my closest friends told me she agreed to have her 3-year-old fur child put to rest after learning about the cancer that spread too quickly through its little body.

Losing a pet is like no longer having a shadow. My heart still surges at the memory of my bird, who flew out the sliding door one stormy February day. For months, I searched the skies for her. I taped pictures of her to poles throughout the neighborhood. I explained in the description that she could be lured with pizza crust. And that there would be a handsome reward for her return. I did all of this instead of facing the obvious. Because the obvious was too painful for me to face.

A dog’s love, in particular, is one of the most powerful, tangible forms of unconditional love and surrendering it never gets easier.

Shaken and empowered by her mortality, I shoved Maya in the back of my Mazda, and we rode with all the windows down to one of our favorite spots. It’s been a while since we’ve visited.

It was a pretty uneventful trip for blog standards, but I will comment on the standout moments anyway:

• A kid sprints down the biggest hill, his hair plastered to the sides of his tomato red face. His brows are furrowed in seriousness. There’s a blue hand towel tucked into the back of his shirt like a cape. I wonder which hero he is.

• The second cup of coffee caught up to me, and I realize I can’t control my bladder any longer. That moment when your ass is hanging out in the woods and hovering over poison ivy—it’s freeing. A few drops of my own urine splash against my leg, and I shiver with disgust. Maya seems taken aback that I can pee how she pees.

• I see the largest daddy long legs spider I’ve ever seen creep across the gravel. And what looks like the tail of a garden snake curl up and slither into a tuft of grass.

• Every person I pass says hi to me, and I say hi to them. There’s something about being outside in the sun that makes people genuinely want to say hi to each other.

• The smell of wet moss. The silent sanctuary of elms. The decaying fruit of the black walnut tree. The reassuring breeze.



I take the wrong exit three different times on the way home. Maya doesn’t know any better. The longer we’re lost, the longer she gets to stick her head out the window and sneeze when there’s too much wind.

I accept this simple day for what it’s worth. The low-sodium spaghetti sauce was a bad choice. The extra Parmesan didn’t help. Not even Sriracha could save it, but I ate all the pasta anyway. Because I don’t like to waste. I still don’t own a TV. I’m trying to be present.

Happy Sunday.


To know oneself

Ahh, to know oneself
said every Shakespeare play ever.
I remember reading lines
with my mouth agape,
maybe drooling like in cartoons,
nodding astutely along with my classmates.
Yes, we know, we know what it’s all about.
We have lived. We know.
We know everything.
We knew before you began.
We know ourselves, honest.
Lecture’s over now, and I have to face
that the classroom was my storm cellar,
and my teachers were my brave best friends
who told me I was going to be one of the okay ones.
It’s my job to plant little poppies, clear weeds and such.
But I have these horror film vines sharpening their claws.
They dare me to laugh, and graze my throat, ever so subtle.
This is work that wears on the brain’s lower back.
The soul chatters its teeth in the world’s cold.
I have these scattergories of big thoughts
shoving their way to be next in line.
In my young adult life, I hop around on hind legs,
always late to understanding.
No, wait! I’m here. I’m present.
I will pay attention this time.
The mother I’ve created in my mind sighs.
She asks me, what are we going to do with you?
She pats me on the rear and tells me to set down
the fishing pole for a while and go for a nice swim.
But I know a thing or two.
Or at least I believe in a few.
I believe dancing your ass off in living rooms will set you free;
in scribbling lines, in making creations with our bodies.
That the watercolor jargon of kindergarten should never leave you.
A baby can mean anything. We each have our own versions of flesh.
I believe in care for strangers.
The woman behind the Dunkin Donuts counter
frowns when you tell her you’re not Assyrian,
that you’re not her family, that you never will be,
but you can understand her in ways her family can’t.
You pick and choose the sound of your good intentions.
You smile your biggest and thank her from the bottom of your heart for the donut.
The snarling man standing outside his car, staring,
isn’t judging you,
he needs help carrying his groceries to his front door,
and he’s ashamed of his walking cane.
And, hey, everyone’s ashamed of something. I believe in that too.
And it’s a good thing our smart phones don’t know our deepest secrets,
that smooth, pink rawness of our insides.
I believe that’s it brave to turn on the coffee maker in the morning,
to see that little morning light of your life.
I believe it’s brave to keep asking yourself questions no one knows the answers to.